An informal voluntary process in which disputed parties use a neutral third-party to assist them in reaching a negotiated settlement.
The parties submit their confidential settlement positions to a third-party neutral who, without relaying one side's confidential offer to the other, informs the parties whether their positions are within a negotiable range.
Early Neutral Evaluation “ENE”:
The neutral evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the litigants' confidential positions, flags the areas of agreement and dispute, and issues a non-binding assessment of the merits of the case.
The neutral (usually an attorney with experience in the topic) receives testimony, evidence and briefings by the litigants and issues a written binding award to the legally prevailing party.
The neutral is appointed by the court to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the litigants' positions, flags the areas of agreement and dispute, and recommends a non-binding assessment of the merits of the case to the parties. The neutral also narrows, eliminates and simplifies case issues and assists in case planning and management for the Court.
A court-appointed expert is assigned to assist the Court and the Parties on complex discovery or evidentiary issues.
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